The full-length trailer of Peter Jackson‘s The Lovely Bones (Paramount, 12.11) will be unveiled, I suspect, sometime Thursday night. Here’s an Entertainment Tonight teaser, courtesy of Trailer Addict and In Contention. No matter how good, period-perfect, overbearing, great or commercially problematic the film turns out to be (and I’m mentioning the last possibility due to alleged concerns in this realm), it will certainly bear the Jackson stamp. And you know what that means.
It means that The Lovely Bones will try to dazzle, caress, smother, cajole and generally work you over like Lou Ferrigno until you drop to your knees in submission. Or until you rebel. Or — this is what I’m hoping for — audiences are won over by a poetically sad and elegant human drama that has the integrity not to try and sell its immaculate sensitivity.
It seems as if CHUD’s Devin Faraci is ready to surrender, and that’s fine. I’m a declared Jackson hater and that’s fine too, but I’d love to get off that train and start hearing/playing another tune. I’d be delighted if the lighter-touch Jackson of Heavenly Creatures would make a return. I would love to move on and give up the hate. Which, I realize, is boring to read about.
“Jackson surprised everyone [at a small ComicCon presser] by showing a four minute sizzle reel for The Lovely Bones,” Faraci writes. “What we saw was essentially an extended trailer, but it offered a serious look into the world Jackson had created — not just the main reality of the book but also the afterlife which main character Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) visits after being brutally murdered.
“The footage was simply sumptious. Jackson’s eye for period detail was right on (the story is set in 1973); he successfully evokes the era without ever rubbing your face in the 70s aspect of it. The real world was filled with rich, dark hues while the afterlife was brighter, often candy colored. We saw moments in the afterlife without context, and the scenes were fantastical, including a shot where huge ships sail into giant bottles. Susie walks across a lake to come to a lavishly lit floating gazebo. She stands in the middle of speeding traffic on a busy night road. A hippy girl dances gaily at the very curvature of the green Earth.
“The idea, which is in the book, is each person experiences [heaven] based on what their life experience is,” Jackson said. “What Susie experiences in her afterlife is based on being a 14-year-old in 1973 and…the pop culture that she’s grown up with and the life experiences she’s had. For our research in the afterlife, we actually looked at episodes of The Partridge Family. Which is not where you normally go for the afterlife.”
“While the afterlife material was visually intriguing, I was most interested in the real world scenes. This will be where the meat of the film happens. 14-year old Susie, is lured into an underground room by neighbor George Harvey (Stanley Tucci), who rapes, murders and dismembers her. Susie’s family must deal with the loss of the daughter and the open-ended nature of the case, all while Susie watches – and tries to communicate — from beyond.
“Tucci is almost unrecognizable. It took me a minute to figure out who the guy was under the make-up.
“‘Stanley liked the idea of playing the part, but I think he was terribly worried about being spat on in malls because he’s a very, very evil character,’ Jackson said. Luckily for the actor his director envisioned a very different appearance for him. ‘Stanley also liked the idea of looking the least like Stanley Tucci as he possibly could.’
“It was Tucci who really stood out; in just a couple of snippets he was utterly convincing playing a cold-hearted evil man, and also a guy who was hiding in plain site, just out of the reach of the law. There’s a scene where Tucci sits on his couch being interviewed by a police detective that will, I think, be electric in the final film. What I saw was impressive, and if voters can get past the evil of the character, I think Tucci could be looking at an Oscar nomination.
“The big question mark for me remains Mark Wahlberg, who came in at the last minute (Ryan Gosling had originally held the role) and who seems to be wearing a cheesy wig. He plays Susie’s dad, a role requiring lots of pain, grief and anger. We didn’t see enough to really get an idea of how Wahlberg plays it, but Jackson did tell us what surprising film won the actor the role.
“We really liked his comedy that was in I Heart Huckabees, and one of the things with the character of Jack Salmon is he’s an obsessive. I mean, he’s kind of an obsessive in a gentle, comedic way, and he’s an obsessive in his relationship with his daughter. And then when she dies and he’s wracked with guilt, but he’s also thinking, ‘Who did this? Who did this?’ And he becomes obsessed with finding the killer. So we wanted somebody, but we didn’t again want to play that heavy and make it maudlin.”
“The entire project is a tricky one; Jackson himself said that the book doesn’t lend itself to a cinematic structure, and the tone of the story is tough to nail. One moment we’re in a strange afterlife with Susie and the next we’re with her grieving, destroyed family. And in the end the film is the story of the brutal slaying of a teenage girl, not the easiest subject. I don’t think that the visuals of the film were ever in doubt, and if they were the four-minute extended trailer removed all of it. But how will the film itself play?”